Chapter 2: Heritage..
In the last chapter I touched on a bit of my Townsend family history, and I wanted to make sure you all didn’t think id forgotten about my mums, the Fogarty’s. My family on both sides have the richest heritage with my mums’ side being very “Australian” or a good blend of Irish & English blood as most settlers were back then; and my Dads, American. Grandpop, my mums Dad, started out not far from where I am now & travelled from QLD to the NT when my Great Grandfather Mick Fogarty was offered an outstanding opportunity to manage Auvergne Station in the NT for AACO. (this is all information you can find in his book “Not without my Sons” by Lloyd Fogarty) This is how my mums side ended up in the NT, and in the Kimberly’s. A lot of my blood is rich with rebel flags, pumpkin pies and tight wranglers but on my mums side it was a complete flipside of worlds. Mums was poly saddles, boiling the billy, damper, bully beef & flannel checks. My grandpop rode in a poly saddle with blue flocking and a check blanket with his stirrups jutted forward, toes up. I remember his little ripped and worn Akubra on his short stout body as a young station hand I used to work for him we’d drive fences and boil the billy way out the back paddocks. Grandma would pack scones with jam and wed have a pannikin of black tea. Yes, we would always light a fire and boil the billy even in modern times when anyone else would take a thermos. It didn’t have the same appeal as Grandpop, he is very old school!
Grandpop didn’t say much, but if you stopped and listened, he would rattle off some of the best stories of the old days. I feel there is so much history in sitting and enjoying an old fellas yarns, they are so keen to pass on their stories, to share what they learnt and so someone knows before their time will come and they wont breathe the sweet air of the bush that we do. Unfortunately for Grandpop, he has dementia, and this has taken a lot of his new memories and day to day abilities away. Its heart breaking I’ve missed out on sitting their and listening to his stories more often as I went away and had baby and spent a lot of my time in QLD. But I cherish the memories I do have and check in when I can. That’s probably my biggest guilt leaving the NT, is missing out on family. Going home all the time to keep friendships and connections alive is hard work when it’s a 3000km trip. But its what I have to do and its where my heart will always belong.. its probably why im always such a lost soul, a no man in a new land.. no tribe so to speak. But I have joined so many other ones, and connected with some amazing people all over Aus because I got out of my comfort zone and wasn’t scared of adventure, change and new beginnings. Sometimes it wasn’t my choice, a lot of the time a door opened so I grabbed the opportunity. Later id be pissed as it was the wrong door, but looking back as we do once we head up that damn hill, bog cog, looking over our shoulders at the long way we’ve come, we know if we didn’t take that wrong turn, the wrong door, we wouldn’t end up where we are and the person we are now. Had to muck it all up for it to all fall into place basically!
With such a diversity in upbringing its no wander I am a southern wild child with a country girls’ heart. In creating Dusty Creek its hard not to waver across the borders, to mix up the Aztec with the pearls, to throw a little colour with the leather. It’s probably why I have a fairly good idea of that border and can keep things on track. I get very excited creating new things, and as I have such a thirst to share my creativity by designing products people can enjoy and wear with pride, I have found there is no limit to my imagination. There are big things coming you wait and see!
This country girls heart comes from my mother and my Grandmothers, all pioneering women of the north. Forging homes and raising kids out of the scrub with not much more then a dirt floor, some corrugated iron for a roof, tin plates, an open fire and some bullocky brewing in a big cast iron pot. That era of strength, guts & patience as women of the early Territory pioneering days. When the 100% humidity would have threatened more reasons for divorces then todays inconveniences. And the wildlife, could you imagine it, the bugs, the mosquitoes, the snakes and all kinds of crawly heebie jeebies.. hats off to those women they did it tough but ploughed the way for many heavenly homesteads our stations and towns have today. Home. We women create it, nurture it, bring it to life, with love & laughter. This is my inspiration behind my new idea, my “a little bit Dusty” brand for country women.. we are tough, we are solid, but we are classy, proud yet gentle and kind. I want clothes that reflect that and the spirit of the old days, hard wearing but retro & classic in its styling. Fashion that isn’t just about looking good, but feeling good, feeling you belong to something and represent something more then a big name brand.
I love old school I’m like my Grandma Fogarty, Camille. I love kids, animals and chaos around me. I love a lot going on, heaps of people to feed and a crowded kitchen on Christmas day. I love cuppas at smoko and making sure everyone’s had something to eat, having a yarn and sharing your stories. I clearly remember, in later years around her table downstairs at Timber Creek. Everyone would come from near and far and sit down for a pot of tea. Shed had a tin of biscuits and fruit cake, and numerous fluffy tea cosy’s, all of them from with their own little personalities like cartoon characters of their own show sitting up there high on that tea pot front and centre. As a kid id relish in the people who would come to see Grandma & Grandpop, my cousins and uncles and aunties, who’d sit around and have a yack about the weather. And Grandma who was always the Timber Creek Weather lady, would give us all the update. Its been years since I’ve sat at that table, but it holds a special place in my heart as I reflect back on what makes life rich and y memories as I raise my own kid and what I want her to remember about her childhood. Its family. And at the very soul of that family is a woman grinding her cogs, battening down the hatches on another tantrum and sorting out the troops, or cranking out a feed from the slow cooker and the pudding in the oven. Grandma Fogarty is a legend, and her legacy she has brought to the region, her historic knowledge, her love of God and her love of family ensures that. For me, Grandmas spirit is what stands out the most, she will fight for what she wants. She stands up for what she believes in and has always stood strong, proud and graceful.
A lot of my ‘domestic goddessness’ (is that a word? Is now ha) & my creativity and excitement for life comes from my Mum, Mandy. Amanda Catherine to be exact... A lot of my best traits come from my mum, she can and will make a feed out of anything, seriously a tin of tomatoes, gravox and a rubbery ol bit of brahman and not much else and shed whip up storm. She had zest and boundless creativity too. I’d watch her draw googley eyed as a little girl, man she can draw. Shed write little stories and cartoons for little magazines in the Territory back in the day. She thinks she’s not much good but if she followed those talents and didn’t doubt herself, shed be sharing those talents around the world I just know it. My mum was a tough cookie, especially growing up at Auvergne with three brothers. She didn’t have much choice! She was wild, untameable, bare feet, on her horse and as unmanageable as the wind. That was me when I was young, and that is now my daughter. Carefree, wild and passionate and a lover of horses. I didn’t learn to draw, but I feel as a photographer it is still a form of Art. Everywhere I go I am sizing things up for a photo. Mum was the same, if she wasn’t drawing she was making. Cooking, sewing, re arranging the house till it was perfectly nice or gardening a little spot in the corner to sit back with a cuppa and read. When we were kids, we would go find Dad out on the grader, or fencing and shed bring smoko and wed make a fire and boil the billy, just in the paddock, and spend the day exploring the bush. Best life for a kid is in the bush, not much lessons can teach you what the bush teaches you. There’s no soft fall, no bubble wrap, no stop signs no rules no nothing.. just you and your own common sense. Ill touch on that in another chapter! These days I don’t really speak to my mum, we lead very seperate lives. I miss her. That mum back then. The one that taught me to cook, to ride, to grab life by the horns, to never give up even though you have 3 kids screaming at your feet and you’re a single mum with nothing much in the fridge or her wallet. She’s a survivor. She forgets sometimes how far she’s come. I forget to. But my daughter needs me to do the same. So, I soldier on with or without her and cant focus on the whys and maybes. Just keep trucking forward.
In my life I have had many inspirational women that have blessed me with their gold coins of wisdom, and I wear them like pearls around my heart in all the challenges I face. These inspire me to stay a good mum, to keep uppa despite the odds. To stay true, stay honest and keep it classy. One other woman among my many is my Aunty Kaye, this is where I must learn to get out of my comfort zone and bring COLOUR to my Dusty brand,, because oh man my Aunty Kaye is COLOURFUL. She is the most wonderful woman I know. She is all about family, food and FUN. She is loud, she is BRIGHT and she is wonderful. I could talk all day about what she has done for me in my life, but her love for family and what she does to be the glue to hold everyone together and to encourage and support is second to none. When I create my women’s clothing, for the true pioneering women of the bush, I promise I will make something PINK for you dear Aunty Kaye.. and something as rich and beautiful as your soul will be a challenge but I accept it with full heart.
If im on this chapter with inspirational women it wouldn’t be right not to include my Grandma Townsend again. As so much of growing up at Shilo Station sits with me still and inspires me on my Dusty journey. Grandma Townsend, not unlike my Grandma Fogarty certainly knew how to feed the troops. 10 fold. If I am completely honest my entire child hood has beena bout food…? Wow, this is a gold coin drop! No wander I love food and struggle with a big bum and fitting into my fav jeans before an important event. Hmm.. its hereditary! What can I say!
🌵Grandma Townsend, Elsie May. She was the refined beautiful American woman that her name entails. She would speak with such a southern drawl that it was like caramel to my ears when id wake on a cool dry season morning to granddaddy shuffling cards in the kitchen and grandma putting the kettle on the stove. To the light of the little kerosene lantern id pad out in my barefeet and sit up next to grandma and grandad as she read her book and he played cards. Grandma always wore cotton, same as my mum’s mum. Cotton in Darwin is hands down the only survival mechanism against the harsh sun, the humidity and the mozzies! Her nighties I remember were lovely ruffled cotton. Her work shirts were always a soft light floral pattern to, with pearl snap buttons. And Grandma always wore gloves & a scarf. She protected her skin. I am terrible and do not do so enough! Grandmas style was classic American and vintage and different, mind you this was 1980s, Its pretty vintage anyway! But from the states to our sunny Aussie shores, it was very unique. I guess when I start releasing a little old school vintage into Dusty Creek you will know where it originates from! Grandma was also all about family and food; this side of my family certainly were all about FOOD. The family get together’s were huge and there were a tonne of kids in wranglers and crazy eclectic shirts and trucker caps that now I would die to find some photos of as they would be AMAZING to replicate. Yes cousins get on it I want to se some old photos!
Basically I have BUCKET LOADS of inspiration when creating a clothing brand that celebrates a Dusty life, and with 2 worlds that collided in the NT with the 2 most opposite families uniting, I certainly have a lot to go with! My memories of growing up are my most sacred of all memories.. I cherish every moment I can remember and it spurs my pony into gear properly when I send my silver wagon north! Ill be doing a trip up again this year, with so much opportunity to create a Dusty Creek brand base up there I will be working hard to develop it by the Dry Season and kick it into gear for late 2020.
Stay tuned, Chapter 3 to come soon…
IMAGE: Mandy Fogarty on Smiley 1975 (i think)
COPYRIGHT: STORY & IMAGE